Rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas have agreed to a unified government in Gaza that is set to assume power immediately. The government will be headed by Mahmoud Abbas, as agreed upon by the two sides in talks held in Egypt. The two sides agreed to the unity government along with the UN controlling the Gaza border crossings. Also, a decision has been made to constitute a joint committee than will oversee implementation of previous reconciliation agreements between the two factions.
The deal will see Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by some countries, cede power in the Gaza strip which has been under its control since 2007 when it won elections there. Since gaining power, Hamas has fought three wars with Israel. Its recent conflict with Israel also ended in a ceasefire deal which stipulated that Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority must control the civil administration of Gaza.
Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi (59), former army chief of Egypt, has been sworn in as the President of the country for a 4-year term. Egypt has been facing political turbulence since 2011 with deadly agitation and economic worries. El-Sissi has took over the highest office less than a year after he toppled the country’s first freely elected president Mohammed Morsi, following days of public protests by Egyptians demanding his resignation.
Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohamed Badie and 683 alleged supporters of the group have been sentenced to death by an Egyptian judge. The judge confirmed the death sentences of 37 of 529 alleged supporters condemned earlier.
If the sentence is confirmed, Mohamed Badie, would be the most senior Brotherhood figure sentenced to death since one of the group’s leading ideologues, Sayed Qutb, was sentenced and executed in 1966.
The guilty verdict and death sentences are still subject to appeal at the Court of Appeal. It however, gives a chance for a judge to change an initial sentence. As per Egyptian law, the death sentences are confirmed by the presiding judge after a comment has been invited from the Grand Mufti of Al Azhar, the country’s apex religious official.
The violence of which the defendants are accused happened on August 14, 2013 as news reached Minya governorate that police had launched the deadly clearance of two sit-ins in Cairo, held by supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi, who had recently been thrown out after mass protests against his regime.